Women and Access to Justice

Start date
01 July 1996
04 473 3453
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Project Overview

The topic of this project has two related issues, each of fundamental importance to New Zealanders. One is whether New Zealand women are treated properly by the legal system. That raises in turn a second issue – whether the New Zealand citizen has such access to legal services and advice as to be able to secure access to justice.

Terms of Reference 

The Commission examines the response of the legal system to the experiences of women in New Zealand, recognising the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi in the examination of Maori women's experiences.

The Commission takes account of the multicultural character of New Zealand society and New Zealand's obligations under international law.

Priority is placed on examining the impact of laws, legal procedures and the delivery of legal services upon:

  • family and domestic relationships;
  • violence against women; and
  • the economic position of women.

At all stages of the project, there is widespread consultation with women throughout New Zealand. The project also draws upon, and complements, the work of other government agencies, the Judicial Working Group on Gender Equity, and other Law Commission projects.

The Commission reports to the Minister of Justice concerning:

  • principles and processes to be followed by policy makers and lawmakers;
  • specific law reforms; and
  • educational and other strategies 

which will promote the just treatment of women by the legal system.